Burger franchises take a second go at success

October 21st, 2011 by Felicity Hughes

After an extended absence, Wendy's is scheduled to return to Japan in December.

It’s official, the square burger is back on the menu in Japan. Wendy’s Burgers, which withdrew from the Japanese market at the end of 2009, is now back, just two years later. Scheduled to open in December, the exact location of the first new store has not yet been announced, but Shibuya Keizai Shimbun has revealed that it will be somewhere in the fashionable Omotesando area.

The swanky location is probably a sign of things to come. When Wendy’s announced that they were planning to reopen earlier in the year, it was reported in the Independent newspaper that they “promised to add new products like premium sandwiches and hamburgers with gourmet toppings served in a ‘contemporary atmosphere.’ ”

Though Wendy’s control the external image of stores, the internal image is up to whoever is running the franchise in a particular country. From 1980 to 2009 that company was Zensho, but it appears that this company wasn’t forward-thinking enough to compete in the ever-evolving world of fast food in Japan. This time franchise will be managed by Higa Industries, the company who operate the hugely successful Domino’s Pizza chain in Japan.

Burger King, which also withdrew from the Japanese market (back in 2001), only to relaunch in 2007, seems now to have a firm grip on things and are staying up to speed with the changing market by luring customers with limited-edition burgers and promotional campaigns. In November, for instance, the company will be offering a 30-minute tabehodai (eat all you can) on Whoppers. From Nov. 1-15, if you order a L set whopper, it’s possible to get as many second helpings as you can eat within the allotted time by simply presenting your receipt and empty wrapper at the counter.

To relaunch Wendy’s, the company is now running a campaign to recruit a fresh face to represent the brand. Budding young stars can apply via Oricon Style. Applications will be accepted up until Oct 24. The winner will be named “Wendy-chan” and will travel the country for two months promoting the upgraded version of the fast-food chain.

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